When I first moved to Atlanta to start a job, a student at another university asked us if we “couldn’t wait to get out of college.” Without any hesitation, I responded, “I didn’t want to graduate! Graduating from college was the worst mistake I ever made.”
Every school is different, and everyone has different college experiences.
Still, though, the increasing pressure to have years of work experience forces students to sacrifice a meaningful college experience.
When I enrolled in college, I viewed it as an opportunity to learn about myself and plan my career. By the middle of my time in college, I thought that I knew which industry I wanted to join. Still, I understood that once I graduated, I’d never again have the freedom that only college can provide.
When I was a college freshman, I took a writing course called Emerging Adulthood. In the class, we explored how college is a transitional time. I learned that many college students are simultaneously children and adults, and that theory made complete sense to me. Full-time college students don’t have the burden of working 40-hour weeks, finding life partners, saving for retirement, and thinking about their next career move. At the same time, college students typically no longer live with their parents. They also generally need to take care of adult responsibilities, like preparing food, doing laundry, and managing their expenses. There’s no other time in our lives when we exist in this “in-between” phase, which makes college pretty amazing.
Therefore, I strongly believe that college students should use their time in school to explore who they want to be as “emerging adults.”
College typically provides just enough support for you to try new things and explore new paths with minimal consequences. Going into college with this mindset led me to an awesome internship in the admissions office, volunteering at a mental health clinic, competing in a step competition, and making some of the most amazing friends I’ve ever had.
None of these opportunities directly aligned with my current career in venture capital. Still, they enhanced my college experience and still make me reminisce about my college days a few years after graduation.
The increasing need for students to have five internships, three jobs, 100 hours of community service, and a 4.0 GPA is taking away from the best parts of college – the chance to find who you are. So if you’re in college, instead of overscheduling yourself this year, be spontaneous, explore new things outside of academics, and genuinely connect with new people. Make the most of this time in your life – there’s truly nothing else like it!